The ability to live up to the standards proclaimed by God does not come from within our own ability or effort, but because we walk according to the movement of the Spirit of God within our lives. It is not easy to grasp this concept because we simply find it hard to believe that anything we "do" is just not going to make us any closer to God because he already indwells us. He moves within us and we move in response to his movement. I saw this little clip on Facebook the other day with a little hermit crab tightly tucked into the security of the shell. A little finger came along and began tapping gently on the outside of the shell. It didn't take long before the tapping stopped and the crab began to unwind itself from the security of the shell. In short order, what seemed inanimate took on life. Why? The touch stimulated the movement. God's touch in our lives stimulates our movement away from a life controlled by sin, tightly bound up in the confines of sin's hold. The small crab didn't respond to some call of the sea, or beckoning of another hermit crab - it responded to the gentleness of the touch upon the shell which held him tightly bound up and immobile - not very dissimilar to what God's Spirit does in touching the hardness of our lives and setting us free to explore the liberty of grace!
If you live your life animated by the flesh—namely, your fallen, corrupt nature—then your mind is focused on the matters of the flesh. But if you live your life animated by the Spirit—namely, God’s indwelling presence—then your focus is on the work of the Spirit. A mind focused on the flesh is doomed to death, but a mind focused on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace. You see, a mind focused on the flesh is declaring war against God; it defies the authority of God’s law and is incapable of following His path. So it is clear that God takes no pleasure in those who live oriented to the flesh. (Romans 8:5-8 VOICE)
The hard shell of sin may provide a place of "security" from what we perceive to be things we don't want to deal with or which seem a bit overwhelming and beyond our reach, but we will never know liberty until we leave the security of our sinful nature! The place we think of as our place of "security" is nothing more than a place of bondage - we just don't realize there is anything beyond it until the Spirit of God comes along and begins to animate us to live outside of that shell. As long as the hermit crab stays tightly wound within the recesses of the shell, he remains focused on nothing more than what really is holding him back in life. The simple truth is that wherever we direct our focus, we will see what is going to be the thing we become and the thing we trust in more than anything else in life. As a tiny crab, he became a hermit - taking up residence within the confines of a shell often bigger than its own body. Sin is kind of like that - we take it on, it encompasses us, and eventually we begin carrying way more "weight" and don't see anything outside of the sin which holds us tightly bound up. We don't see any life apart from the shell because as long as we are tightly encapsulated in the shell all we can see is the walls of the shell.
One of the purposes of the Spirit of God indwelling each of us is to help us get a change of focus - to get outside the shell of sin - and to begin to focus on something other than the confines of our sin. Let me illustrate this another way. You might like chocolate a little bit too much - it almost calls your name, draws you in with the richness of the sweet smell it produces, and creates a response of craving even though you know you don't really want it. Whatever gives us all this trouble in life we refer to as "sin" is usually just like that chocolate. We want it a bit too much, almost hearing it taunt us by "calling our name", and we cannot help but respond to it because it is all we can think about. You know something - as soon as I get the chocolate out of my focus, the less I think about the chocolate. I place an apple on my desk and a can of almonds instead. Why? I want to focus on what is a better choice for my snacking! If we want to overcome sin in our lives, we don't focus on the sin - we focus on the one who is tapping on our shell!
Mind focused on matters of the flesh or mind focused on the work of the Spirit. This is the determining factor of freedom. Sin isn't holding us - we are just focused to inwardly on the inside of the shell of sin! We need to change our focus if we are to ever change our actions! The little crab didn't explore the vastness of the liberty outside of the shell until it got the eyes outside of the shell! All of a sudden, it is like a whole new world opened up to the crab. It isn't much different for us - liberty is only realized fully when we can get our focus off of what we aren't doing right in our lives and begin to focus on the indwelling presence of God's Spirit and what he wants us to behold. Although most parents will tout they have "eyes in the back of their head", no one really has the ability to maintain focus on any two objects. You may think you do, but truthfully you can only focus on one object at a time! The other may be there in the periphery of your vision, but it isn't the object of your focus! As long as we focus on the fleshly desires (the thing we so desperately want to break free from in our lives), the more we will see that thing as an object of "issue" for us.
I don't think we literally crawl into a shell and carry the "shell of sin" around with us, but it is an apt illustration of getting outside of what we have become so comfortable "beholding". Sin is a place of comfort for us - our flesh is our first focus in life, after all. We come out of the womb crying for our flesh to be nurtured, fed, and kept secure. In time, we get angry when it is not, and we rest when it is. To change this focus might just not be the most comfortable thing for us, but it is the most necessary! Just sayin!